Winter can be a great time to downsize your lure presentations and present a quick and easy meal to fish. Whether fishing for stacked crappie or lethargic bass, using small, slow-moving ultralight lures can get you a ton of bites this winter. But remember, winter is a grind! So for each lure, slow is key!
1.) Ultralight Lures: X- Rap
One my personal favorite jerk baits! This little guy is perfect for slow twitching around dock pilings, rock, and brush piles, and is perfect for ultralight fishing beginners! Just like the larger version, it’s got a nice tail feather and carries that trademark slashing action, and pauses instantly and suspends, which is what makes it so deadly in winter; that pause / suspend is perfect for sluggish fish.
Ultralight Lures: Color Selection
For cold water fishing, try going with natural colors like rainbow trout, shad, pumpkin greens, and/or silver flash. This is the time of year to play it safe and slow and not erratic with wild colors.
Where To Fish It
Dock pilings, deep water, ledges, and rocky points are all great places to start when looking for suspended fish. Additionally, On days when the sun is out, the fish will move up shallow for warmth and feeding. This is a perfect time to present an easy meal mid-water column to a hungry fish.
Best thrown on:
- 4-6 lb Mono line
- 5-6 ft Ultra light rod
- Braided main line for better action
2.) The Ned Rig
The ned rig is a simple little lure that can be upsized or downsized according to the fish you’re targeting. As it happens, the ned rig makes a great ultralight choice for anglers targeting bass and panfish. The lure is simple and is made up of a ned rig hook and soft plastic that imitates a small, bottom swelling critter.
Ultralight Lures: How to Set It Up
Using a ned rig hook, thread the worm down the shank of the hook until it hits the base. The worm should be straight with your hook on the top.
Best thrown on
- 5′-7′ medium heavy spinning rod
- 10-20lb braided main line
- 6-10lb mono leader.
Ultralight Lures: How to fish it
Some of the best places to throw a ned rig are rocky bottoms. These areas include main lake points, gravel, chunk rock, and bluff walls. Cast out and let your bait fall straight down by pulling the line off your reel. Once your bait hits bottom, retrieve slowly with a steady drag or occasional hop followed by a long pause.
3.) Rapala Countdown Minnow
One thing I find most frustrating in winter is getting my lure to the appropriate depth. A deep diving crankbait tends to be perfect for these situations, but with ultralight lures, it can be more difficult. For this reason, I use the Rapala countdown minnow. Downsizing to a 1″ presentation can trigger bites when larger imitations won’t cut it.
How To Fish It
Cast out and let your lure sink. Begin counting. Each foot is roughly one second, so 5′ is five seconds. Fish it where you would normally fish a deep diving crank or jerk bait and fish it with a slow retrieve with intermittent twitches.
4.) Ultralight Tubes
Tubes are usually the go-to for stacked crappie. But believe me, when you get on a body of water that’s been pressured all year long, a tiny tube like a crappie jig can produce bites from big bass, too. With a light action 6-7′ spinning rod, you can bomb a 1/16 oz jig head a good distance.
Best Thrown On
- 6′-7′ light action spinning rod
- 4-6lb mono line
- Smooth reel like the Pfluger President 20 or 25
Ultralight Lures: How To Fish It
Fish (especially Crappie) will generally stack along dock pilings, rocky surfaces, and around underhanging trees. Cast out and let your jig hit bottom. Let it lay motionless for a moment. Begin raising your rod tip slowly giving life to your jig. Let it fall back down. Watch for line jumps as your jig falls.
5.) Jigging Spoons
For anything that swims, jigging spoons are a must-have. From trout to bass, to bluegill, spoons can be retrieved straight, switched, jigged, tipped with a nightcrawler, and they work, year-round.
How To Fish It
Find deep water drop-offs, main lake points, dredged marinas, and abandoned boats, cast your lure out, let it fall and then raise your rod tip fast, letting the jig fall again, and repeat this pattern. Allow the jig enough time to fall so that you maintain close proximately to the bottom.
Ultralight lures are a great way to continue fishing throughout the winter. Although it’s difficult as winter can be brutal and unforgiving, there are fewer anglers on the water and more aquatic real estate for you to explore. Downsizing your rod, line, and presentation can lead to some pretty awesome bites!